The City Mattress Blog

sleep tips

How to Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery


Man in sleepwear sits at the edge of his bed dealing with discomfort from gallbladder surgery

About a million Americans every year have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. How could it be that so many people have a procedure you’ve probably never heard of? This is the technical term for gallbladder surgery! The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ located on the right side of your abdomen beneath your liver. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is usually needed if you have painful gallstones or an infection. If your doctor has recommended you have this surgery soon, you probably have a lot of questions, not the least of which has to do with how to sleep after gallbladder surgery.

Sleeping Challenges After a Gallbladder Surgery

Sleeping after any type of surgery or major medical treatment is always a challenge, yet it’s more important than ever during a time of rest and recovery. When you’re sleeping, your body is hard at work repairing itself! If you can’t fall asleep and stay asleep, your recovery time will be much longer, and you’ll be miserable the entire time.

In the days following surgery, after-effects of anesthesia may still be in your system. This can interfere with your sleeping patterns. As well, drugs you take post-surgery can interfere with your sleep. Stress and other psychological responses to surgery can make it harder to sleep, too.

Surgery of any kind is a big deal. Sleep is essential to the recovery process, but it can be really challenging to get comfortable. This is especially true if you’re a stomach or side sleeper and therefore are not able to sleep in your regular position due to the location of your incisions. Getting enough sleep can also be challenging if you’re in pain, so make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to taking pain-relieving medications to help reduce your pain levels so that you can fall asleep.

How to Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery

Sleeping Positions

Getting sufficient rest is an important part of your recovery after surgery. After gallbladder surgery, you will be told to sleep on your back. Some advice tells you it is okay to sleep on your left side if you absolutely must. Sleeping on the right side after gallbladder surgery is not only forbidden, but will also be pretty much impossible because it will be so painful. That is where your incisions are! 


Make sure your mattress is both comfortable and supportive. You want a new mattress that provides ample support as you’ll be lying on your back, and you don’t want to sink in too far. Waking up with aches and pains will only make the recovery process longer! A too-soft mattress may feel comfortable, but it doesn’t provide enough support for your body. This support can be found in either a Firm mattress, Plush Mattress, or a Pillow Top mattress, as long as the core is made correctly. 


One thing that you can use to help you sleep after gallbladder surgery is a memory foam pillow. Memory foam is ideal because it’s both comfortable and extremely supportive. A wedge pillow can also be a huge help. For example, we sell the Avana Slant Bed Wedge Memory Foam Pillow. This pillow features an orthopedic design that can easily support your head and keep you propped up in a comfortable position. A dual-foam interior provides the perfect amount of contouring support, while a washable, antimicrobial bamboo-rayon and microsuede cover ensure easy care and super-soft coziness. This pillow’s design works well if you’re a stomach sleeper who now has to sleep on your back for the next few weeks.

Adjustable Bed Base

Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you try to sleep on your back with your head elevated above the rest of your body. If you don’t typically sleep on your back, this can feel nearly impossible. An adjustable bed base helps, because you can raise the torso portion of your bed about 45 degrees. You’ll be comfortable and rolling over onto your side or stomach once you’re asleep won’t be an option.

Other Sleep Essentials

Be sure to create an ideal sleeping environment by using things like a scented oil diffuser, a white noise machine, and blackout curtains. By ensuring your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet, you can get the sleep you need to help your body heal quickly and completely. 

Things to Avoid When Sleeping After Gallbladder Surgery

Even though gallbladder surgery isn’t necessarily a particularly invasive procedure, it can still make it difficult for you to sleep afterward. Thankfully, by sleeping in the right position and buying the right products, you will be able to sleep well. After a few weeks of resting and solid sleep, you’ll be back to living your everyday life in no time! 

More than anything else, be sure to avoid the wrong sleeping positions. If you sleep on your stomach, it will add unnecessary pressure on your surgical wounds, worsen your symptoms, and prolong your recovery time. Any time you accidentally roll over onto your right side, you’ll be woken up in pain in no time. You can try putting pillows around you to stop you from turning over if you’re worried about this.

Having your gallbladder removed isn’t as daunting as it may sound. That being said, you should aim to make the recommended lifestyle changes and follow your doctor’s advice if you want to avoid problems and complications during your recovery. His or her advice will certainly include expert advice on how to sleep after gallbladder surgery.